On 7 June 2012 the Legislative Assembly agreed to a motion that the State Development, Infrastructure and Industry
Committee inquire into and report on the future and continued relevance of the current Government land tenure. A final report by the State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee of the Queensland Parliament was handed down on 31 May 2013. Consideration was to be given to the following issues:
- Ensuring our pastoral and tourism industries are viable into the future
- The balanced protection of Queensland’s ecological values
- Ongoing and sustainable resource development
- The needs and aspirations of traditional owners
In order for the Committee to give serious consideration to the scope of the inquiry an extension on the reporting framework until 31 May 2013 was provided.
The Committee took public submissions and consulted with key industry groups, industry participants, Indigenous Queenslanders and relevant experts. In addition the committee gathered evidence from peak bodies, relevant government agencies and individual members of the public.
The 194 page report contains 44 recommendations. While the recommendations are yet to be accepted and the means of delivery not available for scrutiny, it is Wildlife Queensland’s view that there are potentially very serious implications for the environment.
The report is based on the 103 submissions received, the 94 witnesses that appeared and other information that the Committee assessed. It contains a number of references to the Wildlife Queensland’s submission and the evidence provided by Wildlife Queensland before the Committee. Unfortunately, broadly speaking, the Committee elected not to embrace the majority of concepts put forward for consideration by Wildlife Queensland. In particular the tiered approach to nature refuges where different classes of nature refuge should exist with different management regimes was rejected. Requests to enact the new draft Stock Route Network legislation gained support but there was no commitment not to change or review that legislation prepared under a previous Government.
Key recommendations to be alarmed about include, but are not necessarily limited, to:
- ‘Future Development Area ILUAs’ or agreements to extinguish native title in areas of leasehold land targeted for unspecified development. The Committee recognises and acknowledges a significant challenge for selling off state land is native title and indicates that means need to be found to address the problem.
- The Committee recommends a whole new (probably legislated) ‘compensation process and scope, resulting from new leases granted or current leases amended, include guidelines to the extent of any compensation, time of payment and negotiation procedures.’ Native title holders might be railroaded by new rules and time frames to expedite conversion of leases to freehold or other developments that require extinguishment.
- The Newman Government has already got rid of Future Conservation Areas (leases on track to become national park) and now want to replace that with Future Development Areas instead. Similarly in the VMA they got rid of High Value Regrowth and replaced it with High Value Agriculture areas.
- General Purpose leases so a pastoral lease could now be used for High Value Agriculture or a dirt bike track for example.
- State to identify focus areas for economic development and, thus subject to Future Development Area ILUAs.
- 50 year rolling pastoral leases.
- Graziers to be able hire their own (government approved) valuers and circumvent government valuation of compensation for freeholding
- An advisory service for graziers seeking an FDA ILUA.
- Incentives to support lessees or local governments wishing to freehold lease or reserve lands … in other words state subsidy to help graziers buy the Traditional Owners out of their interest.
- Short term extensions to expiring leases where the grazier has failed to do the renewal paperwork in time.
- More weakening of rent setting to allow for ‘hardship’ and change UCV basis
- 100 year leases for community reserves held in trust (like showgrounds) and throw them open to commercial uses.
- 50 year rolling leases for tourism operators as well (note the LNP already changed law to allow 30 year tourism leases on national parks).
- Management plans for national parks to ‘improve the implementation of the Tourism in Protected Areas framework.’
- The committee wants tenures reformed to provide ‘sufficient scope to accommodate new, high and medium impact tourism activities adjacent to national parks’.
- Entry fees for national parks.
- Incentives for lessees to maintain areas of national parks that are located adjacent to their properties and any tourism-related leases.
You have every the right to be worried, very worried.
The report may be accessed here.
For more information on Wildlife Queensland’s activities, call us on +61 7 3221 0194 or send us anemail.